The Catman of Paris (1946)

Article #165 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 8-28-2001
Posting date: 1-11-2002

A French writer at odds with the government is suffering bizarre blackouts, during which a catlike killer goes on the prowl and kills people.

When boiled down to its essentials, this poverty row flick is a werewolf movie, filtered somewhat through SHE-WOLF OF LONDON and with a title that bears more than a little resemblance to THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON. However, the details with which the story is fleshed out are pretty elaborate; the mythology surrounding the catman is one of the damnedest things I’ve ever heard (it’s somehow concerned with the alignment of Jupiter), and there’s an elaborate subplot involving the author’s book bearing a remarkable resemblance to a real-life criminal case about which the government is up in arms tied in with the proceedings. Unfortunately, it’s not handled all that well; the whole subplot leads nowhere, and despite having a high interest potential, it is a crushing bore (making it most similar to REVOLT OF THE ZOMBIES).

The movie isn’t altogether without interest, though. For one thing, there are some very striking shots of what looks like a giant cat roaming about in the streets of Paris (it’s an illusion revealed in the movie itself, but it does make for an arresting visual moment). The movie also comes from Republic, and when I see the name Republic, I think westerns. This is interesting because there’s a couple of scenes in this movie that look for all the world like they came from a western, specifically, a carriage chase with guns and a fight scene in a restaurant; change the carriage to a stagecoach in the one and the restaurant to a saloon in the other, and you have two scenes that wouldn’t seem out of place in a western (though they do feel a little out of place here). Carl Esmond plays the writer, with familiar faces Lenore Aubert, Douglass Dumbrille, and a young John Dehner also appearing.

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